Youth Forward scholarship 2016 – Working with the Elderly

Name: Julia Alexandra Williams
From: Fleming Island, Florida
Grade: 12th
School: Fleming Island High School
Votes: 0

I have volunteered for many different organizations and various age
groups but the one volunteer experience that stands out to me as the
most humbling and eye-opening of all was the time I spent working in
a senior citizen memory care home. I had worked with children before,
and they do require a bit of patience, but working with patients in
the early stages of Alzheimer’s was a different story. I chose this
long-term volunteering opportunity because I wanted to challenge
myself as a member of the community to give my time and attention to
these elderly people who cannot take care of themselves and bring a
touch of joy and young perspective to their lives. I volunteered in
the last semester of my junior year, every Sunday for a few hours,
and I would still be volunteering but my part-time job along with
school became time-consuming. My responsibilities as an assistant
engagement coordinator were to interact and engage with the senior
citizens through activities such as games that stimulated logical and
cognitive skills (Monopoly, Dominos, Uno), having long conversations
to recall memories to overcome the memory loss associated with
Alzheimer’s, and helping set up their meals for dinner. The biggest
challenge I had to overcome was developing a sense of patience and
understanding for the elderly people that I worked with. I had to get
used to repeating almost everything I said because of their loss of
hearing as well as spending 15 minutes on one round of Uno due to
their slow reaction rates to a game of that high-speed nature.
Despite these setbacks, I really started to love working with these
sweet people and I looked forward to every Sunday because it became
like a meditation time for me. I got to see what it was like for
people with dementia and it humbled me and made me think about the
brevity of life. It made me more ambitious in my life goals and I
felt inspired by these men and women who lived long and successful
lives. The most important thing I learned from this experience was to
never take time for granted because it slips away too fast and before
we know it, we’re asking ourselves where the time went. I have
chosen to major in biology and intend to work in the field of
genetics and possibly get into cancer research. This relates to my
time at the memory care place because maybe someday I’ll be a part
of the search for cancer, a prominent cause of death in America
alongside dementia. If I were to come back in a variable number of
years, I think that my work would make a difference because it would
give that memory care place a basis for having more responsible
teenagers to engage with the senior citizens and it could turn into a
fun and popular way to earn community service hours while developing
character, patience, and moral codes on how to live as a productive
individual in society.

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